Hidden Barriers to Happiness Blog

Have you always wondered about the invisible forces that affect your health, wealth and happiness?

As a neuroscientist, and then neuro and nutritional epidemiologist, I researched the underlying causes of mental and health problems.  Now as a Holistic Healer for a Happy & Healthy Brain, I regularly make new discoveries while working with clients.

Curious?   Sign up to get my Top 10 Tips for a Happy & Healthy Brain.  You’ll also get 2-4 newsletters month about the hidden barriers that get in the way of the life you really want!

What are you waiting for?  Knowledge is power!

The Power of Our Friend’s Subconscious Influence

Posted by on Jul 30, 2017 in behavior, influence | 0 comments

The Power of Our Friend’s Subconscious Influence

We have all probably noticed the subtle influence we get from our friends. Maybe they want a beer after a hike, desert after a meal, or maybe they just got a cool new phone.   At some point, you are likely to want what they have.   These social influences are much more powerful than we realize, and as a healer, I regularly see the profound impact of our environment. The messages we receive implicitly or explicitly shape who we are and how we think, and one of the most powerful ways to improve as a person is to be picky about who you spend time with.

What evidence is there to suggest that who we surround ourselves with matters?

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The Power of Releasing the Heart Wall with the Emotion Code

Posted by on Jul 22, 2017 in Emotion Code, heart wall, love, love, relationships | 0 comments

The Power of Releasing the Heart Wall with the Emotion Code

I had a client who had been single for almost 4 yrs., and never had been married. She really wanted to have a family, and felt like her clock was ticking.   She asked me to check if she had a heart wall, and we discovered (more…)

How Air Pollution Destroys Our Brain and What to Do About It

Posted by on Jul 15, 2017 in aging, Alzheimer's, Dementia, environmental affects, healthy brain, pollution, risk factors | 0 comments

How Air Pollution Destroys Our Brain and What to Do About It

We had been traveling around to the beautiful small towns of LiJiang and Dali in China, and then headed to Cheng Du.   My sister and her husband were living there at the time, and we planned to stay there for a few days to see it’s best features and prepare for our trip to Tibet.

I remember shortly after I arrived, I became unusually fatigued. I usually have plenty of energy, and am always eager to check out what each new place has to offer. But after arriving in Cheng Du, I didn’t want to do anything except stay in their apartment and sleep. But  Cheng Du is known for is it’s panda reserves, and it was the one thing that motivated me to get out of their apartment.

I remember as we arrived closer to the reserves, my energy (more…)

The Real Reasons People Are Cruel

Posted by on Jun 30, 2017 in abuse, behavior, bullying, toxic relationships | 0 comments

The Real Reasons People Are Cruel

I used to keep abreast of the news, but I find that I no longer can. Why? Because the news is barraged with reports of things cruel people said, cruel people did or cruel new laws that were passed, and I’m finding it too distressing to follow closely.

Similarly, I’ve noticed in my personal life and as a Holistic Brain Health practitioner, cruelty seems to be on the rise.

I was thinking this as I discovered the latest issue of Psychology Today, where the featured article discussed the rise of toxic behavior. According to the global communications firm Weber Shandwick, a record number of Americans (69% ) believe that American has a civility problem.   It was 65% is 2010.

So what is causing the increase in cruelty?

According to the research by Weber Shandwick, most people blame politicians and social media.   As I wrote in my article Why We Lack Control Over Our Thoughts, our environment and what we are exposed to has a profound influence on what we think. If we have any tendency to be cruel, the cruelty we see regularly in the news, in our social media and entertainment gives us unconscious permission to do the same.   We are not immune from our environment. If we were, politicians and advertisers wouldn’t spend as much as they do trying to influence us.

That being said, we don’t all respond to watching cruelty in the same way.

Interestingly, in a study published in 2014, researchers showed that watching violence activates the brains differently in aggressive people than calm people. Aggressive people had reduced activity in the decision making part of their brain (the orbitofrontal cortex), and more activity in the emotional center of the brain (the amygdala).   They also showed a rise in blood pressure.

So if aggressive people respond differently to watching violence than calm people, what makes people unkind in the first place?

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Is it Really “Common Sense”?

Posted by on Jun 15, 2017 in forgive, healthy, perception, relationships, thoughts, versions of the truth | 0 comments

Is it Really “Common Sense”?

When I hear the phrase “It’s just common sense”, I cringe.

Why?   Because our version of “common sense” is based on our environment and past experiences.   What might be common sense to an American, can be very different than what is considered common sense to someone born in a different culture.

Case in point:

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Seven Reasons Why Travel is Good For Your Brain

Posted by on May 30, 2017 in healthy brain, travel | 0 comments

Seven Reasons Why Travel is Good For Your Brain

Are you feeling too tied down by work to get away for that badly needed vacation?

It turns out, you are not alone. The average American only takes half of their vacation time, and we have less vacation time than any other developed country!

Many of us feel too guilty for taking time off. We don’t want to perceived as that employee that doesn’t take their work seriously.   We struggle to let go of our never ending to do list.

But taking time off is good for our brains.   So if you need a good excuse to take that vacation, you can tell your boss all the reasons why it will help you work smarter and harder:

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Improve all your Relationships with this Simple Mindset Shift

Posted by on May 15, 2017 in healthy, love, relationships | 0 comments

Improve all your Relationships with this Simple Mindset Shift

Growing up, my parents valued hard work over everything else.   One of my father’s favorite sayings was, “I don’t believe in having too much fun”.   Having play dates was not encouraged or often allowed!

Therefore, I didn’t have a lot of practice making friends or developing healthy relationships.   Without good modeling for what healthy relationships looked like, I had to figure things out the hard way, through a tons of trial and error.  I suffered for decades, feeling like I was all alone and incapable of being loved!

That was why I was thrilled to learn
about the Smart Couple podcast by Jayson Gaddis. Its purpose is to give couples the tools they need to have win-win relationships. As a single person, it helped me figure out what I needed to do to have healthy relationships, and what I would need from a future partner.   But another key benefit is that what he shares can be applied to improving all of our relationships with friends, family, people we work with, and even ourselves!

I took a class with him to dive more deeply into the material, and got a lot out of it. But if I were asked to give you the most valuable tip I learned, this mindset shift would be it.   I feel so strongly about this analogy, that I believe if it were spread far and wide, it could change the world.

What is this valuable mindset shift?
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Why we might thrive or just survive

Posted by on Apr 30, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Why we might thrive or just survive

Do you feel blocked from achieving your dreams?

Are there specific things that you would love to be able to do, but it just feels too risky?

Some people are always doing something new. They push themselves to grow whether it’s with work, with hobbies, or personal development. Others live more stagnant lives. They may stay in the same jobs, stay in relationships that aren’t working, and never live the life they had hoped to live.

Our mindset is crucial to our potential for success.   People who dare to challenge themselves to try new things have the growth mindset. I’ve written more about the fixed vs. growth mindset in my article The Power of Believing You Can Improve. But what orients a person towards a growth mindset, more than another?

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Why Our Responses To Abuse Vary

Posted by on Apr 15, 2017 in abuse, bullying, resiliency, toxic relationships | 0 comments

Why Our Responses To Abuse Vary

You’ve seen it before.   A man makes a comment that can be interpreted as insensitive or abusive depending on the listener, and every so often you hear a woman that rails into him, to just let him know how inappropriate he was. Seeing this is often shocking to those of us who are used to quietly taking it, wondering what we’ve done to justify his abuse.

Our responses to abuse can vary tremendously depending many factors.

A healthy response is one where we have a clear sense of when we, or others are being inappropriate. We know what we are willing to tolerate, and we don’t allow others to treat us badly.   We can assert our right to be treated well without being abusive to those we feel are mistreating us.

An unhealthy response can take many forms.

Maybe we walk away and take it personally, and start to wonder if the abuser’s accusation are true.

Maybe we don’t anything to the abuser, and start asking ourselves, our friends or even God whether we had brought this abuse upon ourselves.

Maybe we lash out and become just as abusive towards the abuser.

Maybe we hold on to the belief that the abuser deliberately meant to hurt us, when the truth is far more complicated.

Maybe we refuse to see our role in the abuse.

With some people and some situations, we might respond well, whereas with others we may lose our cool.

So what are the factors that determine how we respond?

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The Dangers of Avoiding Conflict

Posted by on Mar 30, 2017 in conflict, healthy, relationships, toxic relationships | 0 comments

The Dangers of Avoiding Conflict

I grew up in a home where I was regularly yelled at for doing things like leaving lights on, for eating too much, or wanting too much. I was told that it was my job not to make my father angry, and so I felt like I was constantly stressed, and feeling like I was walking on egg-shells around the house.   I was taught that we had to respect and obey our elders, and the idea of standing up for myself was completely foreign to me.   Since I didn’t believe I would be able to avoid his anger, I tried to not have feelings and needs.   This set me up for a lifelong pattern of isolating when I was unhappy, and trying to deal with it on my own.

The problem with this model, is (more…)